Pinnipeds belong to one of the most interesting sea creature. They have a peculiar shape and are in the IUCN red list of endangered species.
What are pinnipeds?
Pinnipeds are fin-footed mammals which belong to the family of Odobenidae, Otariidae and Phocidae. The word Pinnipeds is taken from the Greek word "pinna" meaning wing or fin and "ped" meaning foot. There are three families of Pinnipeds:
- Phocidae (consist of earless seals or also called as true seals)
- Otaridae (consist of fur seals or sea lions and eared seals)
- Odobenidae (consist of walrus)
These Pinnipeds mammal are barrel-shaped and have a sleek body. Thus, their body achieves the shape of the pinniped skeleton. Their body is streamlined. They have short, flat and wide flippers and these pinnipeds are well adapted to the aquatic habitat. The pinnipeds mammal can grow up to a size of 13 feet and can weigh up to 4000 kilograms.
Habitat and Behavior
Pinnipedís body is very well adapted to swim and dive in water. They can see very deep underwater as their pupil of the eye expand widely. The pinnipeds research show that they can live underwater for around two hours. Then they come out again to take a deep and fast breath. They are found generally in cold waters of Arctic and Antarctic Ocean. They are found in Baikal Lake, Caspian Sea, rivers in Canada, Alaska and Russia. They like to feed on squid or fish. They are also known to feed on penguins, sea birds, other seals, krill and other invertebrates. An adult walrus has a capacity to eat around 45 kg a day.
Reproduction and Breeding
The female seals give birth to a pup and female walrus give birth to a calf after 12 months of mating. The strongest males gather a group of females in the breeding season. The males are bigger than females. The male walrus makes sounds by using their large throat pouches to attract females. They come ashore to breed and give birth to young ones. The young ones grow very fast as the milk of these species are rich in fat and protein. The new-born seals do not have blubber when they get born but instead they have fur that gives insulation to their skin. And, when they grow and develop blubber then they lose this fur.
Conservation of Pinnipeds
The commercial hunting of these pinniped seals leads them to the threshold of extinction. These pinniped seal are being hunted by human being for the different purposes of their life. The story of hunting of these species began right from the 17th century till 19th century. These are the factors that may make this species extinct from this planet. Walrus seal were killed for their ivory tusks and elephant seal were killed for their blubber. This blubber was further boiled to make oil. The fur seals were killed for their fur. Apart from these the modern fishing techniques, propeller of ships and boats etc. are also responsible for their declining number.